8. Is it Done Yet?

Serves: 5



The only remotely tricky part about barbecuing and grilling is knowing when the food is done. Aficionados use the "poke" method, which is surprisingly accurate when used by a seasoned griller, but for larger cuts of meat, nothing beats the "scientific" method for assessing doneness.

The Artistic Method

The poke method is best for testing the doneness of steaks, chops, chicken breasts, and fish steaks or fillets.

Press the thickest part of the steak or chop with your finger. When it is rare, it will feel soft and yielding-a bit like the flesh between the base of your thumb and forefinger when you bring them loosely together.

When it is medium, the meat will feel slightly resistant-like the flesh between the base of your thumb and forefinger when you make a loose fist.

When well done, the meat will feel resistant and springy-like the flesh between the base of your thumb and forefinger when you make a tight fist.

To test whole chicken for doneness (less artistic, but still not scientific), insert a trussing needle or skewer into the thickest part of one thigh the juices should come out clear. You can also try wiggling the drumstick it should feel very loose. Or make a cut between the leg and the body. There should be no redness at the joint (unless you’re smoking the chicken-smoke imparts a natural pink glow to meats).

To test fish for doneness, press the thickest part with your finger. The flesh should break into large, firm flakes and should pull away from the bones easily.

The Scientific Method

But what about larger cuts of meat? The only really infallible test is to check the internal temperature with an instant-read meat thermometer. This handy device is available at any cookware shop. Insert it into the thickest part of the meat, but without touching any bones. (Bones, like metal, conduct heat.) In the meat, poultry, and seafood chapters you’ll find tables outlining degrees of doneness and their corresponding temperatures. Internal temperatures are also listed in the recipes when appropriate.Here, then, is a broad guide to doneness.

Beef and lamb
Rare 140°F
Medium-rare 150°F
Medium 160°F
Well-done 170°F

Medium 160°F
Well-done 170°-190°F

Chicken, turkey, and quail....
Medium 160°F
Well-done 170°-180°F

Duck and squab
Rare 140°F
Medium 160°F
Well-done 170°F

This 8. Is it Done Yet? recipe is from the The Barbecue Bible Cookbook. Download this Cookbook today.

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